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7 Questions on Leadership with Lionel Philip

Name: Lionel Philip

Title: Director

Organisation: Purple CliQ Ventures Private Limited

I was schooled at Don Bosco High School - India and completed my Bachelor's in Commerce from Mumbai University. Then further trained in tax, finance, cost management & audit from the Institute of Chartered Accountants Of India and Institute of Management Accountants - USA. I have worked with several Management Consulting and Chartered Accountants firms in India. Have worked on projects for Citigroup, American Express and Barclays Bank. I have also cleared my Union Public Service Commission CDS - Indian Armed Forces a prestigious all India exam to serve as an officer in the defense forces of India. I started my career with an internship in finance and climb the ranks to become a partner and then I am currently executing my role as a Director of Operations at Purple CliQ Ventures Pvt Ltd.

After Covid the entire Indian market was like a field ready to be harvested, completely ripe with new ideas and exciting startup stories. That's when I started studying various sectors in detail and zeroed in on a research report from Ernst & Young on the personal grooming segment and identified its potential in India due to the complete overhaul of the spending habits of the Indian consumer.

The idea stuck with me and after understanding the entire range of personal grooming products I started by creating a brand - Israel Philip Fragrances - a luxury perfume brand from India for the world. I started this brand from an idea to making it a brand now available with renowned D2C platforms, retailers and modern trade chain stores in India within a span of 18 months. We are one of India's first vegan compliant,cruelty free luxury fragrance curated by International perfumers like Olivier Gillotin, Marion Costero & Guilluame Flavigny. We ensured that our luxury perfumes do not contain any parabens or phthalates and are IFRA certified with natural essential oils.

This gave me a whole new experience in the operations, sales & marketing vertical within the retail and FMCG segment. Coming from finance this new experience has given me more exposure to become a overall leader understanding the challenges faced by various departments within an organization and keeps me on my feet overcoming new obstacles everyday. I have evolved as a professional from an intern 15 years ago to handling a wonderful team of professionals today and this is the experience I want to share with your readers.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Lionel's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Mary Parker Follett said, "Management is an art of getting things done through other people".

As I have started out from the bottom of the pyramid to climb my way up in my career I have realized that people are the backbone of any organization. Every stakeholder in the organization is a person putting in time & efforts with some expectation & emotion that you have to navigate on a daily basis to achieve your goal. If you are able to manage your people well, you will be able to manage your organization well.

But any human being comes with a varied range of emotions and complexities. The most difficult task as a leader is to understand these complexities and fulfill the organizational needs of every stakeholder to keep the business functioning smoothly and achieve collective growth passionately.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Apart from gaining exposure and knowledge at work, it is also imperative that every person aiming to lead an organization needs to work on themselves outside of work. Having a disciplined life and maintaining consistency in your goals gets your work noticed at every organization. And when your superiors notice this pattern of life and work ethics in you, they then tend to trust you more and provide you with more opportunities to prove yourself at work.

This was exactly the case with me. In every organization I worked for, I went beyond the basic call and proved in every project I handled, that the outcomes I achieved had an edge over the others. This led my superiors to trust me and eventually reward me to climb the steps of leadership in a very short span of time.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I don't want to give a theoretical answer like most leaders do, to look good. Time management is extremely crucial in a leadership position but as a leader there are also days when your entire daily structure is broken due to an unforeseen operational challenge.

Usually, my whole week is planned and scheduled in a manner where I start my work around 9 in the morning browsing through my emails, responding, delegating and organizing them in priority of tasks to be completed throughout the week.

Then I start with my daily team and client calls by 11 am which goes on till lunch time. After lunch till around 6 pm is the time to resolve day to day operational challenges, physical meetings with internal staff and external clients, which involve planning, strategies, reviewing, reporting, sales and marketing pitches.

Evenings are my time to relax and recollect all alone.

So I go for a long walk around 7pm which gives me time to reflect on my day and think what i could have done better. This is the time I use to analyze things in my head to resolve personal and professional challenges to work on it the next day.

Once I am back home from my walk, I get fresh and attend to any calls scheduled from International clients for a couple of hours. Then its dinner time with the family and my nightly routine.

Weekends are completely for the Lord, Sabbath, family and friends.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I have been blessed to be mentored by some amazing people from the industry and have learned a lot of leadership lesson from experience rather than theoretically.

There was a time in my career where the organization was on the verge of collapsing and it would have created a huge impact on every stakeholder involved with the organization.

The most important lesson that I learnt as a leader is to stay calm in every situation and to take calculated risks unemotionally.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The most important book that has always had an impact on me is the Bible. This book not only gives you life lessons as a whole but specific chapters like Kings, Proverbs, the letters of Paul to various churches gives you the wisdom, a leader should encompass to face the challenges and lead your people & organization into better future.

I also take my business structuring, ethics and legacy impact from 2 specific books - The story of TATA by Peter Casey and What happened to Goldman Sachs by Steven G. Mandis.

All these 3 books have made me believe that creating a positive impact by making a legacy organization is more important than short term monetary gain.

Everything you do has a reason and a co-related consequence, hence each action, decision you take, needs to be thoroughly planned and executed creating the maximum positive impact, it could be monetarily, emotionally, socially or environmentally.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

With the attention span deficiency in today's world, it is important for a young leader to understand that success is built brick by brick over a period of time through consistent hard work.

In this technologically advance world most young leaders forget the impact, a human to human conversation can have in their organization. Every successful organization is not only built through an excellent product or service, it is also necessary to ensure that the whole experience is beyond customer expectation. It is also important to do your networking and socializing as sales pitches and emails don't always work as intended.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

As I mentioned earlier there was a time when the organization I was leading had a huge negative monetary impact due to unforeseen circumstances and was about to shut down. During that time every stakeholder of the organization was in a worrying situation as the external economic climate was extremely bad.

During this critical time our people supported each other like a family emotionally & monetarily going out of their way. This only happens when you are able to build a culture of trust, respect and understanding within the organization. Our vendors were worried about their payments but the relationship our team had built with them ensured that they understood our situation and gave us ample time to revive and then clear their dues.

There is a misconception in today's world that a business is run only for profit. I completely disagree with this principle. I believe that as a leader running a division or an organization, you have the unique position to impact society as a whole by your actions. Your team & people imitate what they see you doing, not what you just keep preaching.

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